More Moana Please

Just like everyone, I was really looking forward to this break to relax a little yes, but more-so because I needed to catch-up on all the work I should have done earlier. However, procrastination was not about to disappear so easily, especially not during an extended weekend. I was not able to complete the ridiculous and unreasonable amount of work I had set out to do, but I got a decent amount done. Importantly, though, I did allow myself to relax. On Friday, after having a Thanksgiving Part II and feasting on all the leftovers from the previous night, my dad and I went to the movies.

We often went to the movies together when I was younger — my mom would be working the night shift in the ER, leaving me and my dad together at home. As I got older and became more busy with school, our trips to the movies came to a halt. Befitting a trip down memory lane to when I was younger, my dad and I went to see a Disney animated movie, typically targeted toward children. The type of movie alone reminded my dad of the movies we saw together in the past.

We went to see Moana.

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And it was FANTASTIC. My dad and I are both suckers for these kinds of movies. The animation is absolutely stunning. It was so beautifully drawn.

Also, the story is very heartwarming. I honestly had to actively hold back my tears a few times throughout the movie. To balance out the feels, there were many scenes that prompted laughter.

Aside from the message and animation, the most important aspect about this movie is the main character, Moana, and the people she represents. She is the first disney “princess” (she insists that she is not an actual princess) to come from the South Pacific, and because of that, she represents the Pacific Islands and their people. While you can’t lump all those cultures together and call them the same, little boys and girls from that region of the world and descendants of people from there have a Disney heroine with whom they can identify; A brown-skinned girl who looks like them, more-so than Mulan, Jasmine, Pocahontas, or Tiana. In a similar fashion to the creation of a black barbie doll, Moana is a presence of those cultures who have not yet been represented in popular culture until the creation of this movie.

While acknowledging the meaning of this South Pacific representation, some people have criticized the design of the characters.

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I don’t know how popular of an opinion the one above is, but I’m sure there are others who share the same view. In my eyes, the faces do not look the same. Moana’s features are distinct, and the cultural features becomes more evident in her family members’ faces.

Another critique was of Maui’s physique. He plays Moana’s Demi-God companion on her journey for most of the movie.

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People voiced that they saw Maui as obese and his presence in the movie glorified obesity. In response to the criticism, this photo was released demonstrating the thought process behind his design. His size and build are meant to represent strength, which is how I saw him.

It’s nearly impossible for any movie to escape backlash. For me, Disney did a pretty good job. I am half Filipino and love Disney movies. When I was little, I used to identify with Mulan, because she was Chinese so geographically was the closest to the Philippines, as well as Pocahontas, because we shared the same skin tone. Now, with Moana, I have a Disney “princess” I can really identify with. I can only imagine how much she means and will mean to the countless children who see themselves in her. Full of history and culture, Moana transports you into another world.

Go see it. Moana is a movie for everyone. You won’t regret it.

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